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Kataja Come Back To Edge Ventspils

15 January 2013
EUROCHALLENGE

14. Petri Virtanen (Joensuun Kataja)
Petri Virtanen led the way for Joensuun Kataja with a game-high 22 points

Johnell Smith came up with the decisive free throws at the finish as Joensunn Kataja came from 17 points down to edge out BK Ventspils 80-78 in their EuroChallenge Group I opener.

Ventspils, who had a 19-game win streak across three competitions snapped at the weekend, looked set to get straight back to winning ways as they stormed into a 40-23 lead by the time Folarin Campbell sank a free throw midway through the second quarter.

But the hosts came storming back and had taken a narrow lead by the end of the third quarter.

As time ticked down at the finish, it was Kataja who were nursing a narrow advantage, leading 78-74 on Jerald Fields' jump shot with 55 seconds left.

Martins Meiers went to the line for Ventspils and hit both his shots before Sandis Valters capitalised on a Petri Virtanen turnover to tie it up with 37 seconds left.

Meiers fouled Smith to send him to the line with 24 ticks left, and though he could only split his free throws he was soon back at the charity stripe after Donald Sim's turnover, again making one of two to leave Kataja narrowly ahead.

But it proved enough for victory after Campbell's late shot missed and Jermaine Flowers grabbed the rebound.

Virtanen led Kataja with 22 points while Smith had 16 and Flowers 15.

Campbell finished with 19 for Ventspils while Meiers had 18, Sims 11 and Valters 10.

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